Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Foraged Blackberry Marshmallows


Blackberry marshmallows

Marshmallows are one of my favourite sweets to make (second only to fudge), and these ones only keep a few days, but they won't last that long! It's now the perfect season (at least in the UK) to forage for blackberries, and we collected a glut of them last weekend. I made a crumble and attempted (and failed) a blackberry sorbet. Then I decided to have a go at blackberry marshmallows - it uses my standard marshmallow recipe, and looks sieved and blended blackberries as the liquid base. After the marshmallow was finished, I poured it into a tin, which I'd scattered fresh blackberries into. And wow, these are flavour packed! And foraging is free, so provided you know what you're looking for, go for it :)

These will keep 2-3 days, and make a perfect sweet to delight your work mates/family!

Only pick the black ones, and be careful of thorns!
Makes around 25 pieces

Ingredients:
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) blitzed and sieved blackberries (around 150g)
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) water
  • 2 x 12g sachets gelatine powder
  • 450g (3 cups) caster sugar
  • 150ml (2/3 cup) golden syrup
  • 150ml (2/3 cup) water
  • 50g (1/2 cup) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 50-75g fresh blackberries (depending on how much you love blackberries)
  • Flavourless oil, for greasing

Method:

1. Grease a 20cm square tray/tin (I find a silicon tray works best) lightly with a flavourless oil. Pour the blended blackberries and water into a mixing bowl, and sprinkle over the two sachets of gelatine powder. Set aside until the gelatine has been absorbed into the liquid (it will become very thick) - this will only take around 5 minutes.

2. Pour the golden syrup, caster sugar and water into a medium saucepan and heat on a low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the mixture reaches 130C/ 266F , and then remove from the heat for a few minutes (just until it has stopped boiling).

4. Start whisking the gelatine mixture in the mixing bowl (using an electric whisk or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment). Slowly and carefully, pour the hot sugar syrup onto the gelatine mixture, whisking constantly. The mixture will steadily grow in volume.

5. Once all of the sugar syrup has been added, keep whisking for 5 to 10 minutes, until the bowl just feels warm to the touch. I find that if using an electric whisk, I whisk until the marshmallow is so thick I can't whisk the mixture anymore even on the highest power setting. The marshmallow will be very thick and sticky.

6. In a small bowl, sieve together the cornflour and icing sugar.  Sprinkle half of this on the base of the lined square tub. Sprinkle the blackberries on the base of the tin.

7. Lightly oil a spatula and use this to transfer the marshmallow into the container. Leave to set at room temperature for at least 6 hours (you want it really firm before you slice it!) - ideally leave it overnight.

8. Sprinkle the remaining of the icing sugar/cornflour onto a chopping board, and tip the marshmallow out onto this board.

9. Dip a sharp knife in hot water, dry, then slice the marshmallow into 25 pieces. After each cut, repeat the dipping and drying - this will give the cleanest slices.

10. Turn the marshmallow squares in any spare icing sugar/cornflour, so that all sides are covered.

11. Enjoy!

Blackberry marshmallows



Yum
Print This Recipe:

Friday, 11 August 2017

French Chocolate Tart




This tart is inspired by French patisserie, and is ideal for those people who adore dark chocolate - packed full of flavour and the filling is incredibly smooth on the palette. This is the kind of dessert you can make for you/your partner, and not worry about the children wanting to steal any (at least that's how it was described to me). Use the best quality chocolate you can afford, but as long as it's 70%, the recipe will work :)

If you're like me and love orange chocolate, to give the tart an extra delicious note, you could add some orange zest to the filling and pastry.

The pastry can be trickier to work with than normal shortcrust, as it contains eggs and icing sugar. However, the taste makes up for it - the sweetness of the pastry really complements the deep bitterness of the tart filling. This pastry is blind-baked, meaning that it is baked first without any filling in it - this prevents the dreaded soggy bottom.

If you are worried about the soggy bottom, when you take the pastry out of the oven (before adding the filling), you can spread a thin layer of egg white over the case and bake for a few minutes - this adds an extra seal to 100% stop sogginess.

Serve this tart at room temperature, and serve small slices - it's incredibly filling!

To finish off the tart, I chilled some dark chocolate (about 20g) in the fridge until it was really cold. Then use a vegetable peeler or knife to scrape along the top of the chocolate bar. This will make nice scrapings to top the tart off.

The best kind of tart tin to use is a fluted loose-bottomed one, i.e. the bottom can be removed from the tin. Spring-form tart tins tend to brake and not being able to separate the sides from the bottom will make getting even slices very difficult.

Serves 20 (makes one 20cm tart).

Ingredients:

For the pastry (sweet sable):

  • 175g (1 cup) butter, cut into cubes
  • 75g (3/4 cup) icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g (2 cups) plain flour
  • Finely grated zest of one orange (optional)


For the filling:

  • 500g (2 & 7/8 cups) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200ml (4/5 cup) 4% (full fat) milk
  • 350ml (1 & 1/2 cups) double cream
  • Finely grated zest of one orange (optional)


To finish:

  • 1-2 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting
  • Dark chocolate shards (see above)
  • Zest of one orange
  • 1-2 tbsp flavourless oil (e.g. sunflower oil)


Method:

1. Prepare the pastry by creaming the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl, until all of the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy. You could use a hand electric mixer for this.

2. Add the egg yolk, and the plain flour (and orange zest, if using), and either use a food processor or your hands to bring the dough into a bowl. If the dough seems very floury, add a tablespoon of cold water. Once the mixture is a smooth dough ball, cover in clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

3. Prepare your 20cm fluted loose-bottomed tart case by greasing the base and sides with butter, then dusting with plain flour. Lie a piece of clingfilm on your work surface. Place the chilled dough on the cling film and place another layer of clingfilm on the dough. This allows you to roll the pastry out thin, without needing to add loads of extra flour.

4. Roll the dough out until it is about 1/2cm thick. You can check whether you have enough dough by placing the bottom of the tin over the dough and check there is enough dough to cover the base and an extra 3cm around the base. Once thin enough, remove the top layer of clingfilm. Pick the dough up carefully and flip into the tart tin (so that the remaining clingfilm is on top of the dough. Remove the clingfilm. Press the dough into the sides of the tart tin. Leave the trailing pastry, and trim off after baking.

5. Place back in the fridge for 15 minutes. Whilst chilling, preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/gas mark 4.

6. Once chilled, line the tart with some greaseproof paper, and fill with baking beans/rice/flour. Place on top of another tray. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the sides are golden. Carefully remove the paper and baking beans/rice/flour, then bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the base has gained a little colour and feels firm to the touch.

7. Whilst baking, make the filling. Melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure that the bowl doesn't touch the water!). In another saucepan heat together the milk and double cream until small bubbles are starting to form on the surface of the mixture. Try not to let the mixture boil so much it froths up.

8. Whisk the eggs briefly, then pour the milk/cream over the eggs whilst whisking. Once all of the milk has been added pass the mixture through a sieve onto the melted chocolate, and whisk until the mixture is smooth and a deep chocolate colour. Add the orange zest, if using.

9. Once the tart case is baked, open the oven door. Pour the filling into the tart (it's easiest to leave the tart on the tray. Close the door and then turn the oven off. Leave for 45 minutes until the oven and tart is cool.

10. Remove the tart from the oven, and take out of the tin. Combine the orange zest with the oil.

11. Dust with icing sugar and cut into slices. Top with a little orange zest/oil and chocolate shards, and serve.

12. Enjoy!


Yum
Print This Recipe:

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Toffee Date Flapjacks

Toffee Date Flapjacks


I'm pretty into hiking at the moment, and on our long hikes, it's a good idea to make sure you have enough food :) Better yet that it tastes great to keep your mood up when the weather/terrain turns nasty. Porridge oats are a fantastic source of slow-release energy, and they shouldn't be overly messy to eat (unless you decided to make them extra sticky with a sauce or chocolate of course). Flapjacks are a quick and simple traybake, which seemed like an obvious choice for a high energy food.

I wanted something slightly different to the normal flapjack, which traditionally is just butter, white sugar, golden syrup and porridge oats. By switching the white sugar with  light soft brown sugar, and the golden syrup for treacle, you get a lovely deep toffee-like flavour. Dates are used in sticky toffee pudding to give the ultimate toffee hit, and add an extra dimension to these flapjacks.
If you're not taking these on a hike and don't mind them being sticky, you could dip these in caramel sauce for a decadent snack.

Makes 16-20 (fills one 20cm square cake tin)

Ingredients:

  • 150g (2/3 cup) lightly salted butter
  • 125g (3/5 cup) light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp treacle
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 225g (1 cup) whole porridge oats
  • 100g (1/2 cup + 2 tsp) dates, pitted and chopped into 1cm cubes
  • 50g (1/4 cup) fudge, chopped into 1cm cubes (optional)


Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 200c (180c fan)/ 400f/ gas mark 6. Grease the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin (I used a silicon one, but a standard one would be fine). Dust lightly with flour.

2. Combine the salted butter, sugar, and treacle in a saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until all of the butter has melted.

3. Pour the porridge oats into a mixing bowl and add the cinnamon. Stir, then pour the melted butter/sugar mixture into the bowl. Stir until all of the oats have been coated.

4. Stir in the chopped dates and chopped fudge (if using). Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake for around 15 minutes, until the top of the flapjacks are turning golden and the mixture doesn't shake when the tray is lightly moved.

5. Remove from the fridge and leave to cool. Turn out and cut into squares.

6. Enjoy!

Toffee Date Flapjacks

Yum
Print This Recipe:

Monday, 31 July 2017

Sticky Toffee Basket Weave Cake


Sticky Toffee Basket Weave Cake Roses

This is a pretty special cake. My take on a sticky toffee pudding with a new and amazing toffee buttercream, surrounded by a piped buttercream to look like a basket of flowers. It looks fancy but with a few special piping nozzles, it's no where near as hard to make as it looks.

The nozzles you need are a 2D piping nozzle for the flowers. For the basket itself, I used a wilton 47 tip - if you search for a "basketweave piping nozzle" you'll find it. I believe there are different nozzles to make different width of baskets, so if you want thicker weaves get a bigger nozzle :) I'll describe here how to pipe the baskets, but I know it can be easier to see this being done - here is the youtube link I used. 

I used a 1M piping nozzle for the flowers and ridging, and a 104 wilton nozzle for the leaves (I'm pretty sure you could make good leaves just by slicing the end of the piping bag off however...)


Flower/2D

Basketweave/47

Petal/104

This toffee buttercream is amazing, and it's really simple to make. Don't worry about making the caramel - this recipe is foolproof :)

Makes one 23 cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
  • 400g (2 & 1/4 cups) dates, chopped
  • 480ml (2 cups) weak black tea
  • 200g (1 cup) light brown sugar
  • 50g (1/4 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • 200g (7/8 cups) butter
  • 2 tbsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 320g (3 cups less 2 tsp) self raising flour
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Pinch of salt

For the vanilla buttercream:
  • 100g (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) softened butter
  • 200g (2 cups) icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp boiling water
  • Red/pink/purple gel food colouring (to colour the flowers)
  • Green food colouring (for the leaves)

For the toffee buttercream:

  • 300g (1 & 1/2 cups) dark soft brown sugar (or half dark and half light soft brown sugar for a less intense toffee taste)
  • 170g (3/4 cup) butter, cut into cubes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 90ml (2/5 cup) skimmed milk 
  • 250 - 315g (2 - 2&1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


Method:

1. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan/gas mark 4. Grease two 20cm springform cake tin (with butter or oil), and dust the base and sides with flour.

2. In a saucepan add the chopped dates, black tea and bicarbonate of soda. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 5 minutes until softened. Use a blender to mix the dates/tea into a thick sauce. Leave to one side to cool.

3. Melt the  butter in a saucepan or in the microwave (be careful in the microwave though as if you don't cover the plate the butter may "explode" all over the microwave...).

4. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, golden syrup and vanilla together for a few minutes, until all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has become pale and slightly thicker. 

5. Whisk in the melted butter into the eggy mix. Fold the dry ingredients and pureed dates into the mix until no more flour speckles can be seen. Divide evenly into the prepared cake tin.

6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean, and the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin. 

7. Whilst baking, start the toffee sauce (this is the first step of making the toffee buttercream so see the toffee buttercream ingredients in the list above). Pour the dark brown soft sugar, butter and milk into a saucepan and place on a low-medium heat. Swirl the pan occasionally until the butter has melted.

8. Turn the heat up (to about medium) and let the caramel boil for 4-5 minutes. If using a sugar thermometer, the temperature will read about 170c/350f. If not using one, stop when the mixture has deepened in colour and thickened. Take off the heat, add the vanilla extract and salt, and leave to cool for a few minutes.

9. Set 1/3 of the caramel sauce aside. Set aside the other 2/3 to cool, then place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to cool fully.

10. Once the cakes are out of the oven, prick all over with a fork. Spread over the caramel sauce (the third that isn't currently in the fridge). Set the cakes aside to cool fully.

11. To finish the toffee buttercream, take the caramel sauce out of the fridge and pour into a large mixing bowl. Sift in half of the icing sugar and beat in using an electric whisk if possible (a wooden spoon will work too, it'll just be harder work). Gradually add more icing sugar until the buttercream is thick and when you lift the buttercream from the bowl, it sticks to the whisk/spoon and doesn't fall off (but doesn't feel too stiff to move). If you add too much buttercream add a teaspoon or so of hot water to loosen.

12. To make the vanilla buttercream, beat the softened butter until very soft then sift in half of the icing sugar and the vanilla extract. Add 1 tsp of boiling hot water and beat. Gradually add the remaining icing sugar until the buttercream is thick enough to not fall off the spoon when lifted from the bowl, but not too stiff to move around the bowl.  Set aside one third of the buttercream. Take two tablespoons of this and colour it light green (for the leaves).

Divide the remaining buttercream into bowls and colour as desired for the flowers. For example if you want purple and pink flowers, divide the buttercream into two and colour one bowl pink, the other purple.

13. To assemble the cake, gently remove the cakes from the tins, making sure to keep the orientation (i.e. don't flip them). 

14. Place a tablespoon of buttercream (it doesn't matter which) onto the cake board/serving dish (this will ensure the cake stays still in transit, even if that transit is just from the kitchen to the dining room!). Top with the first layer of cake.

15. Use a palette knife to spread about a third of the toffee buttercream on the top of the cake layer. Try to evenly spread the buttercream to the edges - it doesn't matter if it goes over a bit.

16. Top with the second cake layer. Now use a palette knife to spread a thin layer of the uncoloured vanilla buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. This creates a crumb coat, and hopefully means you won't end up with any crumbs showing on the outside of the final cake :) 

17. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes, until the buttercream stops feeling sticky to the touch.

18. Now for the fun! Prepare piping bags - for the basket weave, place the piping nozzle into a piping bag and half fill with the caramel buttercream. For the flowers, place a 2D piping nozzle into another piping bag and fill with the flower colour of your choice. If you want flowers with two colours in them, spoon half of e.g. the pink buttercream down one side of the piping bag, and the purple buttercream down the other side.

19. Pipe the basket onto the cake. If you practice using the basketweave nozzle, you'll note that if you have one end of the piping nozzle towards you, you'll get a smooth line when piped down, and when you turn the piping bag 180 degrees and pipe down, you get a ridged effect. 

20. Pipe a ridged line down the cake, then pipe smooth lines horizontally over the vertical line you've made, leaving a gap about the width of your piping nozzle between the lines.

21. Pipe the next vertical line, then pipe ridged lines from the gaps between the horizontal lines, over this next horizontal line.  If this doesn't make sense, follow the youtube link at the top of the page for a visual demonstration by the experts.

22. To pipe the roses, hold the piping bag with the 1M nozzle vertically over where you want the centre of the rose to be, then pipe a concentric circle going outwards (like a snail shell). Repeat as desired, using other colours if you like.

23. Place the green buttercream in a piping bag fitted with a flower petal nozzle (I used a wilton 103). Pipe leaves about 1.5cm around the flowers (this just means piping down and along for a second or so, and the nozzle means you get a nice leave shape).

24. To finish, I piped the remaining purple/pink buttercream around the edge of the top of the cake. I stuck with the 1M nozzle and simply piped down then moved around 1cm, to create a kind of ripple effect.

25. Enjoy!!

This cake is lovely and moist and should keep for up to a week in an airtight container.


Sticky Toffee Basket Weave Cake Roses

Yum
Print This Recipe:

Friday, 28 July 2017

Mint Chocolate Macarons


mint macarons mint chocolate ganache

As you may have gathered, I love macarons and wanted to have a go at a grown up flavour. The macarons were flavoured with peppermint extract, and the filling is a chocolate ganache flavoured with an amazing Finnish chocolate mint vodka I received as a birthday present (called minttu). In place of that, you could use your favourite spirit, or more mint extract if you want a mint sensation. 

These are delicious just after assembly, but are even better the next day. I think duck eggs are amazing, but hen eggs will work too (just make sure they are free range as the better quality eggs, the better the meringue and hence the macarons).

Makes around 24 macarons (48 shells)

Ingredients:

For the macarons:
  • 175g (1 & 1/3 cups) ground almonds
  • 175g (1 & 1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 4 (125ml/1/2 cup) medium duck egg whites
  • 165g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 50ml (3 tbsp and 1 tsp) water
  • 1/2 tsp peppermint extract (not essence, a paste would be best)
  • Green food colouring (I use a paste, but you could use a powder)

For the chocolate ganache:
  • 100ml (1/2 cup) double cream
  • 50ml minttu (or your favourite spirit)
  • 300g (2 cups) 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 30g (2 tbsp) softened butter

Method:

1. Place the ground almonds, and icing sugar in a food processor (or high power blender) and blitz 3 times for 2-3 second bursts, until the mixture is very fine. Be careful not to blitz for too long as the almonds can turn to butter!

2. Sieve the almonds/icing sugar into a large bowl. Add 2 of the egg whites, and beat until a smooth paste is formed.

3. Heat the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Then stop stirring and place a sugar thermometer in the pan. In a grease-free bowl *, add the remaining two egg whites. Once the sugar/water has reached 110C, start whisking the egg whites (I tend to use a hand-held electric whisk, but a stand mixer would be even easier!).

4. Once the sugar/water syrup has reached 118C, the egg whites should be white and frothy (like shaving foam). Carefully pour the syrup onto the egg whites, whisking constantly. Be very careful not to touch the syrup as it is super hot! Keep whisking until the mixture is shiny and forms peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mixture (this should take between 5 and 7 minutes). Add a small amount of the green food colouring and whisk until the desired green colour.

5. Use a metal spoon to fold a third of the egg white mixture into the almond/sugar paste. Once incorporated, gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

6. Fill a piping bag with the macaron mixture, and cut off 1cm from the end (or use a large round nozzle). Grease and line three baking trays with parchment paper and hold the piping bag vertically above where you want to pipe. Pipe 3cm lines of macarons, leaving at least 2cm between each macaron. 

7. Tap the tray on the surface a few times, then leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, until a "skin" has formed on the macarons - this means that when you gently touch the macaron, no mixture goes on your finger.

8. Preheat the oven to 170c (150c fan)/ 340F/ gas mark 3. Before you place the baking trays into the oven, tap the trays against the surface again. This gives the perfect "foot" of a macarons. Bake the macarons for 8-10 minutes - keep an eye on them after 8 minutes in case they are browning too much. Remove the macarons from the oven and transfer the macarons (with the baking paper still attached) to a wire rack to cool.

9. To make the ganache, heat the cream and butter in a saucepan until bubbles are beginning to form on top of the cream.

10. Pour over the chopped chocolate and beat until all of the chocolate has melted. Add the minttu, and whisk to combine. Set aside to cool, then place in the fridge for around 45 minutes, until beginning to set.

11. Take out of the fridge for 5 minutes at room temperature. Use an electric whisk to beat the ganache, causing it to become fluffy and soft (it becomes more mousse like in texture). Fill a piping bag with the ganache.

12. Flip half of the macarons over. Pipe ganache on the flipped halves and gently top with an unflipped macaron shell.

13. Enjoy!

* A great way to ensure your bowl and whisk is grease-free is to lightly wipe with lemon or lime juice.

mint macarons mint chocolate ganache

Yum
Print This Recipe:

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Chocolate Sesame Cake

Chocolate Sesame Cake Ganache Honeycomb

I made this cake quite a few weeks ago, but haven't stopped thinking about it :) Sesame is a flavour underused in UK cakes, but tahini (sesame seed paste) is pretty common in the rest of the world, and various versions of halva (like a sweetened sesame seed block - very yummy) appear in countries from Poland to Greece and India. This cake swirls a lovely chocolate cake with a tahini infused cake, and it's covered in a milk chocolate buttercream and crushed honeycomb.
It may not be the most elegant cake I've made, but it tastes amazing and I doubt you'd be able to buy a similarly flavoured cake.
So be different and try out this cake. I doubt you'll regret it :)

Most UK supermarkets do sell tahini - look in their world food sections. If you can't find the tahini, you could try using a smooth nut butter - I'd recommend Meridian as a brand as the butter is very loose (like tahini).

Makes one 23cm cake

Ingredients:

For the chocolate sponge cake:

  • 200g (7/8 cup) softened butter or margarine, plus an extra tablespoon for greasing
  • 200g (1 and 1/8 cup) 55% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g (1/2 cup) soft light brown sugar
  • 100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • 100ml (1/2 cup) espresso coffee (or 100ml of a regular cup of coffee)
  • 100ml (1/2 cup) soured cream
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 200g (1 & 2/3 cups) self raising flour
  • 5 tsp good quality cocoa powder
  • plain flour and icing sugar, for dusting

For the sesame sponge cake:

  • 150g (2/3 cup) tahini (or runny peanut butter, see above)
  • 150ml (3/4 cup) instant coffee
  • 150g (3/4 cup) golden caster sugar
  • 250g (2 & 1/4 cups) self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp milk

For the frosting:

  • 400ml (1 & 3/4 cups) double cream
  • 400g (2 & 1/4 cups) 55% dark chocolate
  • 80g (1/3 cup) butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

For the honeycomb:

  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 75g (1/3 cup and 2 tsp) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda


Method:

1. Grease two loose-bottomed 23cm round cake tins with butter, then lightly dust with plain flour and icing sugar. Tap the tin to evenly spread the flour/icing sugar around the base and sides of the tin, and tip out any excess.

2. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/ gas mark 4.

3. For the chocolate sponge, melt the butter and chocolate together, by placing in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (making sure that the water does not touch the bowl!). Stir occasionally until all of the chocolate has melted.

4. Meanwhile, beat the brown sugar, caster sugar, and eggs together in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Pour in the espresso coffee, soured cream, self raising flour and cocoa powder. On top of these ingredients (prior to mixing), pour over the butter/chocolate. Beat with a wooden spoon (or whisk) until you can't see any flour/cocoa speckles. It will be a nice deep brown colour. Set aside whilst you make the tahini sponge.

5. To make the tahini sponge, simply beat the tahini, coffee, sugar, self raising flour, baking powder, cinnamon and milk together until the flour has been incorporated.

6. Use two large wooden spoons to dollop mixtures of each sponge mixture into the two tins (so, for example you spoon a large spoonful of the chocolate mixture into cake tin 1, then a large spoonful of tahini sponge, then another chocolate sponge spoonful etc). Evenly distribute between the two cake tins.

7. Once the cake tins are about halfway filled, swirl a skewer (or knife) through the batter to marble the cake. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake springs back when lightly pressed, is slightly coming away from the sides of the cake, and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Set aside to cool completely.

8. To make the frosting, chop the dark chocolate finely and pour into a medium mixing bowl.

9. In a large saucepan pour the double cream, and heat until bubbles are just beginning to form (this will be about 80c if you're using a sugar thermometer).

10. Pour the chocolate over the chopped dark chocolate and stir until all of the chocolate has melted.

11. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then beat in the cinnamon and salt, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

12. To make the honeycomb, grease the base of a baking tray, and have to the side of your oven your bicarbonate of soda and whisk ready.

13. Heat the golden syrup and sugar together in a small saucepan, stirring at first to dissolve the sugar into the syrup. Once you can no longer see the sugar speckles, remove the spoon and leave to boil away.

14. Heat until the mixture is a deep golden colour (about 154c/310f). Once this colour, turn off the heat, add the bicarbonate of soda, and whisk quickly. The mixture will bubble up ferociously, so be careful not to touch it!

15. Whisk until the bicarbonate of soda is fully absorbed, then pour onto the prepared tray. Set aside to firm up for 30 minutes, then crush half of the honeycomb to a fine crumb. The other half can be eaten as is, or dipped in chocolate (YUM).

16. To assemble the cake, turn both cakes out of the tin and level the tops.

17. Take the ganache out of the fridge and bring to room temperature for 5 minutes. Use an electric whisk to beat the ganache briefly - this aerates the ganache, giving it an even better texture.

18. Place a tablespoon of ganache on your serving dish/cake board. Transfer the first sponge to the dish/board, and lightly press down.

19. Spread a third of the ganache on the first sponge, and top with the remaining sponge layer.

20. Use a palette knife to spread a thin layer of ganache over the top and sides of the cake. This acts as a crumb coat, and helps give a nice crumb-free finish. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up.

21. Use your palette knife again to spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake. This can be as neat or as rough as you like. I made mine a little rough as I wanted it to look informal.

22. Sprinkle on the crushed honeycomb. You could use the spare honeycomb shards here to add an extra wow factor to the cake, but do this just before serving (as the honeycomb slowly melts when exposed to air in my experience, especially on summer days).

23. Enjoy!

Chocolate Sesame Cake Ganache Honeycomb

Yum
Print This Recipe:

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Bacon Brownies



I wanted to bake something a little different this week, but didn't have loads of time to do something crazy. So instead I decided to put bacon in brownies :) Using bacon in sweet dishes is nothing new in America, but over in the UK, it's still pretty weird. The key is to make the bacon very crisp, so that it's not soft in the brownie. That, and if you can, use streaky bacon - I find it gets much crispier than standard rashers and imparts more bacon flavour.

Makes 20 brownies

Ingredients:

  • 150g (2/3 cup) butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 100g (1/2 cup) dark soft brown sugar
  • 150g (3/4 cup) light soft brown sugar
  • 75g (1/2 cup) chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans would work great)
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder
  • 50g (3/8 cup + 1 tsp) ground almonds
  • 150g (1 & 1/4 cups) plain flour (a gluten free plain flour would work equally well if you're gluten intolerant)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 75g (1/2 cup) dark chocolate chips
  • 200g (1 cup) streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/ 355F/ gas mark 4. Lightly grease a 20 x 20cm baking tray with butter and dust with plain flour.

2. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, until all of the butter has melted. In a separate frying pan, fry the bacon (in a little butter) for 3-5 minutes, until it becomes really crisp. Take off the heat and pour the maple syrup over the bacon. Stir through then pour onto a plate to cool.

3. Whisk the eggs with the vanilla, light soft brown and dark soft brown sugar until lighter in colour and it has at least doubled in volume. Sift the flour, cocoa powder and ground almonds onto this egg/sugar mixture, and pour over this the melted butter. Fold in, so that you can no longer see any flour speckles.

4. Add the chopped nuts, crispy bacon and chocolate chips. Fold in briefly to distribute the walnuts/bacon/chocolate evenly, then pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top is crisp, but when you shake the tin a little, the middle of the brownie wobbles a little.

6. Cool, slice into squares, and serve warm with ice cream for dessert, or at room temperature for an afternoon snack.

7. Enjoy!


Yum
Print This Recipe:

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Amaretto Fudge



Mmmmmm fudge. Possibly my favourite sweet. I wanted to jazz up a classic and give it an adult note, and amaretto seemed the perfect complement. The marzipan-like flavour really enhanced the fudge :) Instead of amaretto you could use whatever you favourite spirit is, for example a spiced rum or something like chambord or cointreau.

Pieces of this in a pretty bag/box would be a brilliant gift to take along to a dinner party or just to show off your baking skills :)

Makes around 20 pieces

Ingredients:
  • 200g (1 cup & 1 tbsp) brown sugar
  • 75ml (1/3 cup) double cream
  • 50ml (1/5 cup) milk
  • 30g (2 tbsp) butter
  • 45ml (3 tbsp) amaretto
  • 1 tsp golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Grease and line the base of a 1lb/500g loaf tin with baking parchment.

2. Place the sugar, double cream, milk, butter and golden syrup in a medium saucepan and place on a low heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter melted, then turn the heat up to bring the mixture to a boil.

2. Once at a boil, reduce the heat slightly and keep stirring until the mixture reads 110c/230f on a sugar thermometer. This will take between 8 and 12 minutes, depending on the pan/hob heat.

3. Once at temperature, take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes.

4. Add the vanilla extract and amaretto, and beat in. Keep stirring the fudge as it cools (around 15-20 minutes), and it will become very thick. Once cool, tip into the prepared tin and smooth out. Use a fork to draw diagonal lines across the fudge, then leave to set (for at least 1 hour).

5. Cut into cubes.

6. Enjoy!

This fudge should ideally be kept in the fridge (because of the cream), and will last up to a week.


Yum
Print This Recipe:

Monday, 19 June 2017

Gluten-Free Fudgy Coconut Brownies

Gluten-free fudgy coconut brownies

Hi everyone! This recipe is super simple and will delight any gluten-free people you know, or anyone else for that matter! They have an intense chocolate kick, surrounded by a crisp outside and the centre just melts in your mouth. These brownies are epic. To make them even better for a coconut lover such as myself, I used coconut oil instead of butter and added desiccated coconut to the mix. These are at least 10 x better than any store bought brownie I've bought, and the bad rep of gluten free baking ends with this recipe.

If you're not a huge coconut lover, you can either use an unflavoured coconut oil or use butter :)

These are brilliant served at room temperature as an afternoon snack, or warmed up and served with some cream, custard or ice cream as dessert.

Hope you enjoy them as much I do!

Ingredients:

  • 125g (1 cup) coconut oil, melted
  • 250g (1 cup and 2 tbsp) light soft brown sugar
  • 50g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder (the best quality you can afford), plus 1 tbsp for dusting
  • 50g (1/3 cup and 2 tsp) ground almonds
  • 50g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 2 medium eggs

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/355f/gas mark 4. Grease the base of a 20cm square cake tin (I use a silicon baking tray but any should work), then dust with cocoa powder.

2. Break the brown sugar into a fine crumb (it has a tendency to clump), then combine with the melted coconut oil. Whisk until smooth, then add the eggs, cocoa, ground almonds and dessicated coconut.

3. Beat until all of the dry ingredients have been incorporated, then pour into the prepared tray.

4. Bake for 18-22 minutes, until the top feels crisp and when you lightly move the brownies, only the very centre wobbles slightly.

5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully before slicing.

6. Serve cold, or hot with cream/custard/ice cream. YUM.

7. Enjoy!

Gluten-free fudgy coconut brownies

Yum
Print This Recipe:

Monday, 12 June 2017

Gluten-Free Millionaire's Shortbread

Gluten Free Millionaire's Shortbread


As you may have gathered, I hate to bake things for a group of people when at least one of them can't eat said product. That's why I've really made efforts recently at making gluten free bakes :) This one was actually one of my first, but I've only just now gotten around to writing up the recipe. It's a beaut - millionaire's shortbread - layers of shortbread, homemade caramel, and a marbled chocolate topping. The shortbread is the only aspect that needed gluten removing from, but I ended up with a really good biscuity result! And don't worry, my caramel is foolproof :)

Makes 16-20 squares (fills a 20 x 20cm square tin prior to baking/setting)

Ingredients:

For the shortbread:

  • 225g (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 115g (1/2 cup) golden caster sugar
  • 225g (1 & 1/2 cups) plain gluten free flour (I use Dove's Farm), plus an extra tablespoon for dusting
  • 115g  (1 cup) corn flour


For the (salted) caramel:

  • 150g (2/3 cup) butter
  • 1 x 397g tin sweetened condensed milk
  • 100g (1/3 cup minus 1 tbsp) golden syrup
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)


For the chocolate:

  • 150g (1 cup) milk chocolate
  • 150g (1 cup) white chocolate


Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 160c (150c fan)/ 355f/ gas mark 3. Grease and flour (using gluten free flour) the base of a 20cm square cake tin.

2. For the shortbread beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until it is very soft and spreadable. Add the sugar and "cream" (i.e. beat the sugar into the butter), until all of the sugar has been incorporated and the mixture has lightened in colour. This will only take a few minutes.

3. Sift in the flour and corn flour, and use a wooden spoon or your hand to beat the flours into the butter/sugar to create a dough (there shouldn't be many crumbs remaining in the bowl if you lift the dough out). As soon as the ball of dough is formed, stop working the dough.

4. Lay out a sheet of clingfilm, and lay the dough on top of it. Cover with another layer of clingfilm, and roll out the dough to a 20cm square (it will be about 1cm thick).

5. Transfer to the cake tin (minus the cling film), and prick all over with a fork.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden on top, and the top feels crisp to the touch (i.e. it doesn't feel soft when pressed). Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

7. Make the caramel. Add the butter, condensed milk and golden syrup to a saucepan and place on a low heat. Stir until the butter has melted.

8. Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. At this point keep stirring the mixture as the base may catch otherwise. Keep stirring and boiling until the mixture turns a deep caramel colour - this will take 3-5 minutes, depending on the heat of your hob. Once ready, take off the heat and pour on top of the cooled shortbread. If you want salted caramel, add the salt to the caramel at this stage. Leave to cool.

9. To make the chocolate topping, melt the milk and white chocolate separately in bowls in a microwave, heating for 10-20 second bursts, stirring well between each addition. Once both chocolates have melted, place a layer of clingfilm on a baking tray/rectangular chopping board. Place spoonfuls of milk or white chocolate over the clingfilm, and use a spoon to lightly marble the chocolates together, to make a square about 22cm in size. Place in the fridge to set.

10. Once set, trim the chocolate with a sharp knife to 20cm, and place on top of the cooled caramel shortbread. Place the whole millionaire's shortbread in the fridge for at least half an hour, then slice into squares.

11. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Millionaire's Shortbread

Yum
Print This Recipe:

Monday, 29 May 2017

The Best Sponge Recipe!


Duck egg sponge cake


This is my new favourite sponge recipe - the trick? Use duck eggs instead of hen eggs - they are much richer in flavour and wow, you'll be glad you tried them out :) Just be sure to weigh the eggs as they can vary massively in size (and don't seem to have as standard sizes as hen eggs).
If you can't find duck eggs, use hen eggs - the recipe will still work and taste nice (just not quite as heavenly).
I filled my sponges with raspberry jam and covered the cake with a vanilla buttercream. Then to have some fun, I gave painting a go and used concentrated gel food colourings to paint a duck on the top of the cake :D This is obviously optional but worked quite well (given my limited artistic talents).
The cake is delicious and will keep for 3-5 days in an airtight tin :)

Makes one 23cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 250g butter, melted
  • 250g duck eggs (around 4) or equivalent weight of hen eggs
  • 250g golden caster sugar
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


For the buttercream:

  • 200g butter, softened
  • 400g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp milk


To finish:

  • Raspberry jam (around 150g)
  • Food colourings of your choice
  • Paintbrushes


Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180c (160c fan)/ 355f/gas mark 4. Grease and line the base of two loose bottomed (or springform) 23cm round cake tins.

2. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the sugar and keep whisking for 3-5 until the mixture is pale and has at least doubled in volume (you can use an electric whisk at this stage if you like).

3. Whilst whisking, pour in the melted butter and vanilla extract. Once all of the melted butter has been added, sift in the flour and baking powder.

4. Fold the flour into the batter with a large metal spoon, just until you can see no more pockets of flour. As soon as this happens, evenly distribute the cake batter between the two cake tins.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops of the cakes are golden, they are starting to pull away from the sides of the tin, and a skewer entered into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

6. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully.

7. To make the buttercream, beat the butter in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon until it is very soft (it will appear like a soft spread). Sift in half of the icing sugar and keep beating to incorporate the icing sugar.

8. Sift the other half of the icing sugar into the bowl, along with the vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of milk. Beat until all of the icing sugar has been incorporated. If the mixture appears to thick (it is very hard to beat), add a little more milk (a teaspoon at a time). If when you spoon some buttercream out of the bowl, it immediately falls off the spoon, the mixture is too slack - if this happens add a few tablespoons of icing sugar. You want a spoonful of buttercream to slowly fall off the spoon, and to be spreadable.

9. To assemble the cake, level the top of both cakes off with a serrated knife. Any leftover bits are chef's perks, or can be frozen to use another day for cake pops.

10. Spread the jam all over the top of one of the cake layers. Top with about 1/4 of the buttercream, being careful to spread the buttercream evenly over the cake layer.

11. Top with the other layer of cake. Use a palette knife to smooth a very thin layer of buttercream over the top and sides of the cake - this acts as a crumb coat and gives you a better finish.

12. Refrigerate the cake for 10-15 minutes, until the buttercream on the cake no longer sticks to your finger.

13. Take the cake out of the fridge and cover the top and sides with the remainder of the buttercream.

14. To paint the cake, simply use the food colouring gels as paint pots, and go for it :) The food colouring I use is Wilton branded (like these), and it worked really well :D You can use disposable gloves if you're worried about getting the food colouring on your hands, and I used Kitchencraft paintbrushes (like these), but I'm sure any clean artist paintbrushes would work just as well)

15. Enjoy!

Duck egg sponge cake

Tammymum
Yum
Print This Recipe:

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Medovik - Ukranian Layered Honey Cake


Medovik - Ukranian 8 Layered Honey Cake

Every year for Eurovision I like to bake something from the host country. Last year Sweden hosted, and I made Ostkaka and Kladdaka (see here for the recipes). This year, Ukraine were the hosts and when searching for something to bake, this layered honey cake came up time and again.

In truth there's no sponge in this cake. It's more like 8 layers of honey biscuit, sandwiched with creamy but light filling. It has to be left overnight after forming, which softens the biscuit to be like a beautifully soft sponge.

I was skeptical when I started baking this cake, assuming mine would end up looking a mess.

However, it was really straightforward, and only took 90 minutes to prepare, bake and assemble! We tried it the next day and wowzerz it's tasty :) It looks really impressive so I'd highly recommend anyone try out this recipe.

I topped the cake off with some almond brittle, which is entirely optional, but gives the cake a nice final touch :)

Makes one 23cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 165g (3/4 cup) golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 660g (3 cups) plain flour

For the frosting:

  • 160ml (2/3 cup) double cream 
  • 600ml (2 & 1/2 cups) soured cream
  • 135g (1 & 1/3 cup) icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon


For the almond brittle:

  • 75g (1/2 cup) flaked almonds
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp water


Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 180c (160c fan)/350f/gas mark 4. Grease two baking trays.

2. Heat the honey, sugar and butter together in a saucepan, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the saucepan off the heat and beat in the eggs.

3. Sift the bicarbonate of soda and plain flour into a large bowl. Pour the flour into the saucepan and beat with a wooden spoon until all of the flour has been incorporated. The dough should be firm enough to be able to form into a ball.

4. Place the dough on a floured surface and shape into a flat circle. Divide into 8 pieces (like a pizza).

5. Place a sheet of baking paper on your surface and lightly dust with flour. Add 1/8 of the dough to the paper, and roll out to 2-3mm thick. Use the base of a 23cm cake tin to cut the dough to the 23cm size. Keep the trimmings (they are used to cover the cake later).

6. Transfer the dough (stuck to the baking paper) to the greased oven tray and bake for 3-4 minutes, until browned. Once cooked, you can slide the baking paper +layer off the tray onto a wire rack, and bake the next layer (with a new sheet of baking paper).

7. Once all of the layers have cooked, roll out the trimmings to an even thickness, and bake for 4-5 minutes until browned. Set aside to cool, then blend to a fine crumb in a food processor.

8. Make the frosting by sifting the icing sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the soured cream and cinnamon and beat until smooth.

9. Beat the double cream with a whisk until stiff peaks form. Fold this cream into the rest of the frosting. Refridgerate until ready to use.

10. To make the almond brittle, heat the granulated sugar and water together in a saucepan. DO NOT STIR IT, but you can swirl the pan from time to time. Keep an eye on it - after about 5 minutes it should turn a nice amber colour. Meanwhile, pour the flaked almonds evenly onto a sheet of baking paper (in a baking tray).

11. Once amber, pour the caramel over the almonds. Tilt the pan to evenly distribute the caramel. Leave to set for 10-15 minutes until cooled and firm. Break into shards.

12. To assemble the cake, place the first layer onto the serving plate. Place 4-5 tbsp of the frosting on the layer, and spread evenly over the cake. Top with the next layer of sponge.

13. Repeat with the remaining layers. Use the remaining frosting to cover the top and sides of the cake - a large palette knife or dough scraper will give you the smoothest result, but a round knife will also work.

14. Pour the cake dough crumbs all over the cake. I don't know an easy way to do this - I just sprinkled it over the top of the cake (easy enough) then patted the crumbs onto the sides - a messy job but it worked.

15. Cover and place in the fridge for at least 10 hours.

16. Top with almond brittle shards, and enjoy!





Yum
Print This Recipe:

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Macaron "Eclairs"

 
Chocolate peanut butter salted caramel macaron eclairs

So I'm pretty addicted to GBBO: Creme de la Creme, and this week they made macarons (that weren't allowed to be circular). I love macarons (as does my boyfriend), so it seemed like an opportunity to make another kind. I've previously made festive spiced and chocolate & raspberry macarons, and used a very similar recipe. The only difference - duck eggs! As seen from my post last week, duck eggs are incredible for sponges and I wondered how they'd be for making meringues (which are needed to make the macarons).

The result? Perfection :) Lovely a crisp to bite through with a soft chewy centre. They're best the day after you've baked and filled the macarons as the shells soften slightly.

I added cocoa to the macarons to give it a cocoa flavour and filled the macarons with a peanut butter cream cheese frosting and a liquid salted caramel filling. If you want an extra chocolatey note, you could drizzle some dark chocolate over the top of the macarons :)

From start to finish these took me two hours - the only difficult part is patience when whisking the egg whites and sugar syrup - keep going until the meringue forms glossy peaks! Also be patient when waiting for the skin to form - if you don't the macarons will crack in the oven.

Makes around 24 macarons (I made mine around 3cm long rectangles, but you can do standard circles if you wish).

Ingredients:

For the macarons:

  • 150g (1 & 1/4 cups) ground almonds
  • 10g (1 & 1/2 tbsp) cocoa powder (the best quality you can afford)
  • 175g (1 & 1/2 cups) icing sugar
  • 4 (125ml/1/2 cup) medium duck egg whites
  • 165g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 50ml (3 tbsp and 1 tsp) water
For the peanut butter filling:
  • 125g (1/2 cup) peanut butter (I used crunchy for extra texture)
  • 60g (1/2 cup & 2 tsp) icing sugar
  • 30g (2 tbsp) softened butter
  • 50g (3 tbsp) cream cheese (full fat)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp milk (optional)
For the liquid salted caramel:
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) double cream
  • 1 tsp softened butter
  • 75g (1/3 cup & 2 tsp) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I used freshly ground Himalayan salt)
Method:

1. Place the ground almonds, cocoa and icing sugar in a food processor (or high power blender) and blitz for 2-3 second bursts, until the mixture is very fine and the cocoa is evenly distributed. Be careful not to blitz for too long as the almonds can turn to butter!

2. Sieve the almonds/cocoa/icing sugar into a large bowl. Add 2 of the egg whites, and beat until a smooth paste is formed.

3. Heat the granulated sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Then stop stirring and place a sugar thermometer in the pan. In a grease-free bowl, add the remaining two egg whites. Once the sugar/water has reached 112C, start whisking the egg whites (I tend to use a hand-held electric whisk, but a stand mixer would be even easier!).

4. Once the sugar/water syrup has reached 118C, the egg whites should be white and frothy (like shaving foam). Carefully pour the syrup onto the egg whites, whisking constantly. Be very careful not to touch the syrup as it is super hot! Keep whisking until the mixture is shiny and forms peaks when the whisk is lifted from the mixture (this should take between 5 and 7 minutes).

5. Use a metal spoon to fold a third of the egg white mixture into the almond/cocoa/sugar paste. Once incorporated, gently fold in the remaining egg whites.

6. Fill a piping bag with the macaron mixture, and cut off 1cm from the end (or use a large round nozzle). Grease and line three baking trays with parchment paper and hold the piping bag vertically above where you want to pipe. Pipe 3cm lines of macarons, leaving at least 2cm between each macaron. 

7. Tap the tray on the surface a few times, then leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, until a "skin" has formed on the macarons - this means that when you gently touch the macaron, no mixture goes on your finger.

8. Preheat the oven to 170c (150c fan)/ 340F/ gas mark 3. Before you place the baking trays into the oven, tap the trays against the surface again. This gives the perfect "foot" of a macarons. Bake the macarons for 8-10 minutes - keep an eye on them after 8 minutes in case they are browning too much. Remove the macarons from the oven and transfer the macarons (with the baking paper still attached) to a wire rack to cool.

9. To make the peanut butter filling, sift the icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the peanut butter, softened butter, cream cheese and vanilla extract and beat until all of the sugar has been incorporated. If the mixture looks very stiff add a few teaspoons of milk. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large piping nozzle (a 1M large star nozzle would work well, or use a disposable piping bag and cut the end off about 1cm from the tip).

10. Make the liquid salted caramel. Pour the granulated sugar into a saucepan and place on a low heat. Keep an eye on the sugar, swirling the pan occasionally (but do not stir it!). After around 5 minutes, the sugar will be a light brown colour and be bubbling. 

11. Once brown take off the heat and add the butter. Whisk until melted, then pour in the cream. Whisk continuously. If the caramel becomes lumpy, place back on a low heat and whisk until the caramel has dissolved.

12. Pour the caramel sauce through a sieve into a bowl and allow to cool (for at least 10-15 minutes).

13. Once the macarons are cooled, start the assembly by flipping half over so that their bases point upwards.

14. Pipe a line of buttercream over each macaron that has been flipped.

15. Pour the caramel into another piping bag fitted with a small piping nozzle (a No.1 wilton tip/standard piping nozzle will work). Pipe a small amount of caramel over the "peanut buttercream". Top with a non-flipped macaron shell.

16. Pipe the remaining caramel sauce over the macarons.

17. Enjoy! (They are best eaten the next day so can be fully enjoyed then).

Chocolate peanut butter salted caramel macaron eclairs



Yum
Print This Recipe:

Monday, 1 May 2017

Gluten and Egg Free Lemon and Strawberry Syrup Cake


Gluten Egg Free Lemon Strawberry Cake with mini eggs

These past few weeks have flown by, and although I've been baking (mainly to de-stress), I haven't had time to post in what feels like ages.
Hopefully everything has settled down now, so I should be able to get back to my usual schedule :)

In my new job I have many new food intolerances to deal with. I hate baking when I know someone can't eat any for example if they are gluten-intolerant. It so happens that to keep my team fed, I need to bake things that contain no gluten nor egg yolks. I love a challenge and to make a cake without these ingredients was a challenge. Eventually I worked out this recipe - a lemon syrup cake with strawberry jam and lemon buttercream. Super yum.

If you wanted the cake to be dairy free, use a soy (or other alternative yoghurt), and a non-dairy butter (ideally the firm blocks, not spread). For the buttercream, you may find you need more or less icing sugar, as it completely depends on the butter you use. You want the buttercream to be firm enough to not fall off a wooden spoon, but spreadable (to enable it to be piped).

To make the horizontal lines around the cake, you can simply use a fork to gently move around the buttercream.

For the piping I used a closed tip large flower nozzle - see below:


The cake turned out really moist and soft, and was just as good (if not better) than lemon cakes I've made in the past that used normal flour and eggs!

Makes one 23cm cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:
  • 300g margarine (dairy free if you want, I used Stork), plus extra for greasing the tins
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 200g natural yoghurt (or dairy free alternative)
  • 3 lemons
  • 300g gluten-free plain flour (I used Dove's but other brands should work)
  • 2 tbsp gluten free baking powder (I used Dove's)
  • 1/2 tsp xantham gum
  • 50g icing sugar

For the frosting:
  • 200g good quality strawberry jam

  • 200g softened butter (or dairy free alternative)
  • 400g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • yellow food colouring (I use a concentrated gel, where only a tiny amount is needed to colour the buttercream)

To finish:

  • Handful of mini eggs

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 190c (170c fan)/375f/gas mark 5. Grease the base and sides of two 23cm cake tins, and sprinkle flour over. Tap the tin to evenly distribute the flour in the tin and tip out the excess.

2. Beat the margarine until very soft, and add the caster and brown sugar. Beat until all of the sugar has been incorporated - make sure there are no clumps of brown sugar. The mixture will look light and fluffy in a few minutes.

3. Zest and juice 2 of the lemons and add both the zest and the juice to the bowl, together with the vanilla extract, yoghurt, gluten free plain flour and gluten free baking powder. Beat briefly until the mixture is smooth.

4. Pour the mixture evenly between the two cake tins and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

5. Whilst the cake is baking, juice the remaining lemon and add to a saucepan with the 50g of icing sugar. Bring to the boil, and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has become clear.

6. Once the cake is out of the oven, prick the surface of each cake with a fork and use a pastry brush to evenly spread the lemon syrup over each cake. Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting (this takes at least 30 minutes).

7. Make the buttercream. Have your butter as soft as possible, and beat with a wooden spoon until it is spreadable. Add half of the icing sugar with 1 tbsp of lemon juice and beat - the mixture will be very stiff. Once smooth, add the remaining icing sugar and lemon juice and continue beating until all of the icing sugar has been incorporated and if you taste a little, you can't taste any grains of sugar (or lumps of butter). The mixture should hold when you spoon a tablespoon out, but it shouldn't require too much strength to beat. This is hard to describe but to test, place a small amount of the buttercream into a piping bag and try piping the buttercream back into the bowl. If this requires a lot of force the buttercream is too stiff and needs a little more lemon juice (or milk if you don't want it so strong). If the mixture doesn't hold its shape once piped, it's too thin - to fix this add more icing sugar (but be sure to taste it to make sure it doesn't become too sweet).

8. Once the cakes have cooled turn out of the tins. If they have a significant dome, slice the tops off so they can be stacked. Place the first cake on a cake board. Spread the jam over the cake evenly.

9. Top with a third of the buttercream - you can pipe this on or just spread with a palette knife to the sides of the cake.

10. Top with the other cake layer. Take a large spoonful of buttercream and place on top of the cake. Use a palette knife to smooth around the top and sides of the cake a very thin layer of buttercream. This acts as a crumb coat and will give the cake a more professional finish. Place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

11. Take a third of the remaining buttercream and colour it a light yellow. Spread the uncoloured remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. A long palette knife or a dough scraper works really well for this, but a flat knife will also work. Be patient and try to get an even layer on and around the whole cake. A good way to get a smooth edge is to place a large spoonful of buttercream on the side of the cake, then run a palette knife/dough scraper around the cake, essentially dragging the buttercream evenly across the cake. Any excess buttercream can then be used to patch up sections.

12. Drag a fork/line embosser around the sides of the cake to create the lines.

13. Place the large closed tip flower nozzle into a piping bag (I used a non-disposable one this time, but disposable bags also work very well). To pipe around the top of the cake, hold the bag vertically over the cake and press down to make a little domed peak. Then release a little pressure as you move the bag to create a little ribbon/leaf effect. Repeat around the cake.

14. To make the roses, again hold the piping nozzle vertically over where you want the centre of the rose to be. Start piping and then pipe in a swirl to the size of the rose. Repeat as desired.

15. Top with mini eggs, or cover the whole of the top of the cake with roses (you could do different colours of buttercream and make a bouquet of roses for example).

16. Enjoy!

Gluten Egg Free Lemon Strawberry Cake with mini eggs

Yum
Print This Recipe:

Comments system